Simla is a landmark New Farm residence built in 1921.  After minimal refurbishments, it remained largely untouched since 1988. It was purchased by the Spicers Group in 2012. At that time Rowena Cornwell and her team at Coop Creative were engaged by Spicers to convert this 1920s building into eight luxury apartments and a conference room.

Simla was a seminal project for Petro Builders. The project was made possible from the outset by Spicers who believed in the value of the preserving the existing building, and trusted the architect and builder to produce a construction that was both sensitive to the richness of the original structure, and  accommodating of the building’s revised purpose.

The professional relationship between Coop and the Petro Builders’ site manager Stefan Franke was critical in achieving an exceptionally polished result. This project serves as a great example of what can be achieved when there is mutual respect, trust and open dialogue between architect and builder.

The material change of use from a residential to commercial premises required the existing building to be brought to a standard compliant with current building regulations. Stefan and the team at Petro Builders were instrumental in negotiating the complexities of fire regulations, acoustic separation between rooms, and ensuring compliance with accessibility requirements. Stefan and Nick’s intimate understanding of Rowena’s design allowed them to effectively balance the demands of compliance with broader vision of the project.

The result is a stylish, refurbished apartment block that enhances its historic past, coupled with a modern rear extension that follows a conventional building program of steel reinforced concrete columns and suspended slabs.

Simla was an impressive project for all stakeholders. Petro Builders would like to thank Spicers and Coop Creative for the opportunity to work on such a beautiful building, which has served as a shared learning experience for all involved.